By Greenwood County Fire Chief Doug Williams
Madison News – March 27, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 21, 2014

On a sad note, Eureka saw the loss of a historical building last week and three residents suffered the loss of personal items in the apartment fire. I am always impressed at the efforts of the local firefighters and other agencies that jump in to help out when we get a major incident in progress. These responders fight the fire all night and then still have to go to work the next day. Some of them, that are able, even take time off from work the following day to help with the investigation and clean up. Kudos to those volunteers for what they do. All of the support from the other agencies is also appreciated.

The volunteer firefighters have been very busy lately. One of the problems we have been experiencing is leftover controlled burns. We have had a rash of fires that appear to have been started from burning of brush piles and then a day or two later, the wind kicks up, switches direction and starts a grass fire. We ask that you look at the forecast out several days when burning items that will smolder for days. Last week we had a fire that threatened some homes and outbuildings on a day when we were under a Red Flag warning that was likely started from a brush pile burned the day earlier. I know as spring arrives, we all want to clean up, but I would ask that, if possible, hold off burning brush piles or other non vegetation until after burning season when the pastures green up. That way there is not a threat of it spreading.

Spring is upon us and the pasture burning season is near. After the lack of burning the past couple of years due to drought conditions, we are expecting more prevalent burning this year. I met with the County Commissioners last week to discuss how to have a more consistent burning policy and not unduly burden ranchers trying to get their pastures burned.

Within the past few years, the National Weather Service has been posting the Grassland Fire Danger Index (GFDI). The fire service realized a few years ago that humidity has as much or more to do with the spread of fire as the wind. The GFDI takes into consideration many weather factors to reach its conclusion. The ratings are Low, Moderate, High, Very High and Extreme. Generally the extreme conditions are when they put out the “Red Flag” warning.

After a long discussion with the Commissioners, it was decided to prohibit burning on the days with the GFDI is Extreme and discourage it on the Very High days. It was also noted during the meeting that the person burning is responsible until the fire is completely out.

Be careful and safe while burning and welcome the spring sports seasons and warm weather!

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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